Entertainment

The Best Movies Based on Short Stories 

Ranker Film
2.8k votes 335 voters 23.9k views 50 items

List Rules Films based on short stories and novellas. Vote and up the best movies that started out as a work of short fiction.

Some of the greatest movies in the history of film were based on a short story. Authors like Edgar Allan Poe have inadvertently shaped the film industry with their literary classics that were eventually turned into movies. What are the best movies based on short stories? Vote up the best films below and see where your favorites rank!
 
The movies on this list were all based on short stories or novellas and have been ranked by users as the best. The genres featured here range from classic black and white films to more recent box office hits. You might have read the short fiction or novella these films were based on, or maybe you are just learning that these movies were based on one.
 
This list features the best movies based on short stories including, The Shawshank Redemption, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Million Dollar Baby, Brokeback Mountain, and Minority Report. Vote up the best movies below or add one you love that isn't already on the list.

list ordered by
1
Ranker Video
Morgan Freeman, Rita Hayworth, Tim Robbins
Based on Stephen King's novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. The Shawshank Redemption is a 1994 American drama film written and directed by Frank Darabont and starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. Adapted from the Stephen King novella Rita Hayworth and ...more

More The Shawshank Redemption 

#14 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #3 of 348 The Best Movies Based On Booksfeaturing The Best 'Shawshank Redemption' Quotes Will Set You Free

2
Stand by Me is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Movies Based on Short Stories
Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman, John Cusack
Based on Stephen King's novella, The Body. Stand by Me is a 1986 American coming of age comedy-drama adventure film directed by Rob Reiner and starring Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman and Jerry O'Connell. Based on the novella ...more

More Stand by Me 

#234 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #19 of 348 The Best Movies Based On Booksfeaturing Behind-The-Scenes Stories From 'Stand By Me' That Prove The Film Shaped The Child Actors

3
Ranker Video
Marlon Brando, Harrison Ford, Robert Duvall
Based on Joseph Conrad's novella, Heart of Darkness. Apocalypse Now is a 1979 American epic adventure war film set during the Vietnam War. Produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, and Robert Duvall. ...more

More Apocalypse Now 

#227 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Moviesfeaturing Behind-The-Scenes Stories About Marlon Brando In 'Apocalypse Now'listed on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

4
Ranker Video
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside
Based on Philip K. Dick's story, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale. Total Recall is a 1990 American science fiction action film directed by Paul Verhoeven. In 2084, a construction worker, Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger), suddenly finds himself embroiled in ...more

More Total Recall 

#148 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #12 of 192 The Best Alien Movies Ever Madefeaturing Every Warning Sci-Fi Writer Philip K. Dick Gave Us About Technology That Is Coming True

5
Ranker Video
Alfred Hitchcock, Tippi Hedren, Suzanne Pleshette
Based on Daphne du Maurier's short story of the same name. The Birds is a 1963 suspense/horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, loosely based on the 1952 story "The Birds" by Daphne du Maurier. It depicts Bodega Bay, California, which is, ...more

More The Birds 

#35 of 796 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #4 of 20 Horror Movies That Don't Look Like Horror Movies

6
Ranker Video
Cameron Diaz, Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell
Based on Philip K. Dick's short story of the same name. Minority Report is a 2002 American neo-noir science fiction mystery-thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and loosely based on the short story of the same name by Philip K. Dick. It is set ...more

More Minority Report 

#11 of 33 The Best Steven Spielberg Movies #170 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guysfeaturing Every Warning Sci-Fi Writer Philip K. Dick Gave Us About Technology That Is Coming True

7
Ranker Video
Anne Hathaway, Jake Gyllenhaal, Kate Mara
Based on Annie Proulx's short story of the same name. Brokeback Mountain is a 2005 American epic romantic drama film directed by Ang Lee. It is a film adaptation of the 1997 short story of the same name by Annie Proulx; the screenplay was written ...more

More Brokeback Mountain 

#595 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #15 of 157 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Againlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

8
Ranker Video
Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Christopher Walken
Based on Washington Irving's short story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Sleepy Hollow is a 1999 American fantasy horror adventure film directed by Tim Burton. It is a film adaptation loosely inspired by the 1820 short story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington ...more

More Sleepy Hollow 

#181 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #206 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

9
Ranker Video
Arthur C. Clarke, Leonard Rossiter, Ed Bishop
Based on Arthur C. Clarke's short story, The Sentinel. 2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 epic science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick. The screenplay was written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, and was partially inspired by ...more

More 2001: A Space Odyssey 

#87 of 254 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #247 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

10
Ranker Video
Audrey Hepburn, Mickey Rooney, Mel Blanc
Based on Truman Capote's novella of the same name. Breakfast at Tiffany's is a 1961 American romantic comedy film starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard, and featuring Patricia Neal, Buddy Ebsen, Martin Balsam, and Mickey Rooney. The film ...more

More Breakfast at Tiffany's 

#996 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #38 of 803 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

11
Ranker Video
Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano
Based on Jonathan Nolan's short story, Memento Mori. Memento is a 2000 American neo-noir psychological thriller film directed by Christopher Nolan. The screenplay was written by Nolan based on his younger brother Jonathan Nolan's short story ...more

More Memento 

#7 of 254 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #62 of 157 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Again #176 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

12
Ranker Video
looksharp added
Jessica Biel, Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti
Based on Steven Millhauser's short story, Eisenheim the Illusionist.
The Illusionist is a 2006 American period drama film written and directed by Neil Burger and starring Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, and Jessica Biel. It is based loosely on Steven Millhauser's ...more

More The Illusionist 

#1,020 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #346 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #495 of 803 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made

13
Ranker Video
Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson
Based on James M. Cain's story of the same name. Double Indemnity is a 1944 film noir crime drama directed by Billy Wilder, co-written by Wilder and Raymond Chandler, based on James M. Cain's 1943 novella of the same name, which originally ...more

More Double Indemnity 

#289 of 803 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made #510 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys

14
Ranker Video
Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Hilary Swank
Based on the short stories of Jerry Boyd. Million Dollar Baby is a 2004 American sports drama film directed, co-produced and scored by Clint Eastwood, and starring Eastwood, Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman. This film is about an ...more

More Million Dollar Baby 

#1,086 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #435 of 803 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

15
Ranker Video
looksharp added
Meryl Streep, Robin Williams, Jude Law
Based on the short story "Super-Toys Last All Summer Long" by Brian Aldiss
A.I. Artificial Intelligence, also known as A.I., is a 2001 American science fiction film written, directed, and produced by Steven Spielberg, and based on Brian Aldiss's short story Super-Toys ...more

More A.I. Artificial Intelligence 

#411 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #17 of 33 The Best Steven Spielberg Movies

16
Ranker Video
Bootsdad added
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Brown, Jesse Ventura
"Based on a short papeback story by Richard Bachman aka Steven King" The Running Man is a 1987 American science fiction action film loosely based on the 1982 novel The Running Man, written by Stephen King and published under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. ...more

More The Running Man 

#45 of 153 The Best Science Fiction Action Movies #32 of 160 The Best Dystopian And Near Future Movies

17
Ranker Video
Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Elle Fanning
Based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story of the same name. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a 2008 American romantic fantasy drama film directed by David Fincher. The storyline by Eric Roth and Robin Swicord is loosely based on the 1922 short ...more

More The Curious Case of Benjamin Button 

#93 of 348 The Best Movies Based On Books #376 of 803 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

18
The Mist is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Movies Based on Short Stories
go_sullivan added
Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden
The Mist is a 2007 American science fiction horror film based on the 1980 novella of the same name by Stephen King. The film was written and directed by Frank Darabont, who had previously ...more

More The Mist 

#46 of 192 The Best Alien Movies Ever Made #238 of 348 The Best Movies Based On Books

19
Ranker Video
Mark Ruffalo, Forest Whitaker, James Gandolfini
Based on Maurice Sendak's story of the same name. Where the Wild Things Are is a 2009 fantasy drama film directed by Spike Jonze. Written by Jonze and Dave Eggers, it is adapted from Maurice Sendak's 1963 children's book of the same name. It ...more

More Where the Wild Things Are 

#203 of 302 The Greatest Soundtracks of All Time #178 of 348 The Best Movies Based On Books #374 of 582 The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

20
Ranker Video
looksharp added
Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, Logan Lerman
Based on the short story of the same name by Elmore Leonard
3:10 to Yuma is a 2007 western film directed by James Mangold and produced by Cathy Konrad, and stars Russell Crowe and Christian Bale in the lead roles, with supporting performances by Peter ...more

More 3:10 to Yuma 

#34 of 396 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #155 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys #206 of 710 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

21
The Fly is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Movies Based on Short Stories
Geena Davis, Jeff Goldblum, David Cronenberg
Based on George Langelaan's film of the same name. The Fly is a 1986 American science fiction horror film directed and co-written by David Cronenberg. Produced by Brooksfilms and distributed by 20th Century Fox, the film stars Jeff Goldblum, ...more

More The Fly 

#41 of 796 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #59 of 157 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Againlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

22
Ranker Video
Orson Welles, Trevor Howard, Joseph Cotten
Based on Graham Greene's novella of the same name. The Third Man is a 1949 British film noir, directed by Carol Reed and starring Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles, and Trevor Howard. It is considered one of the greatest films of all ...more

More The Third Man 

#293 of 314 The Top Must-Read Books of All Time #1,075 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

23
Ranker Video
looksharp added
Jennifer Connelly, Keanu Reeves, Jon Hamm
Based on the short story "Farewell to the Master" by Harry Bates The Day the Earth Stood Still is a 2008 American science fiction film, a remake of the 1951 film of the same name. The screenplay is based on the 1940 classic science fiction short story ...more

More The Day the Earth Stood Still 

#132 of 568 The Greatest Disaster Movies of All Time #16 of 28 28 Times Keanu Reeves Smelled Something Weird on Film

24
Ranker Video
looksharp added
Sean Penn, Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig
Based on the short story of the same name by James Thurber
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a 2013 romantic adventure comedy-drama cult film directed by, produced by, and starring Ben Stiller. Gore Verbinski served as executive producer. This is the ...more

More The Secret Life of Walter Mitty 

#68 of 208 The Best Adventure Movies #24 of 30 The Worst Movies With Great Trailers

25
The Man Who Shot Liberty... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Movies Based on Short Stories
John Wayne, James Stewart, Lee Marvin
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is a 1962 American Western film directed by John Ford starring James Stewart and John Wayne. The black-and-white film was released by Paramount Pictures. The ...more

More The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance 

#7 of 47 The Greatest Western Movies of the 1960s #58 of 80 The Most Patriotic Movies of All Time